Editorials, Opinion

The Good, the Bad and the Stupid: Legislative graveyard

Like the magic that allowed Cinderella to go the ball, the 2022 regular legislative session ended at midnight (technically Sunday) and took with it a whole host of bills. Most of the bills we covered here in our The Good, the Bad and the Stupid editorials now lie in the legislative graveyard. Some of them we mourn; others, we happily dance upon their graves.

Since we don’t have the space to talk about all the bills that died, we’ll hit the highlights. To avoid confusion, the dead bills below will be identified by their original moniker of “good,” “bad” or “stupid.”

Good: HB 4252 — to cap insulin and diabetes-related medical devices copay costs. We — especially everyone who called their legislators — came so close to pushing this one over the finish line. It passed both chambers initially, but it had to be concurred in the House of Delegates before midnight. Alas, it was not.

Bad: SB 498 — known as the “Anti-Racism Act,” or more accurately the anti-critical race theory act, would have stifled honest discussions about race and sex and how those shaped our history and our present. SB 498 died on a technicality at the last second, and we have never been more grateful to stuffy political procedure. Though the bill passed both chambers, the vote to concur with House changes went right up to midnight, and Senate president was still declaring the bill passed at six seconds after midnight. Because he wasn’t done speaking before the session expired, the bill died.

Stupid: HB 2598 — to roll back inspection measures for “small” above ground storage tanks in zones of critical concern (with five miles of a drinking water intake). This bill would have further gutted the already eviscerated protections the Legislature put in place after the 2014 Freedom Industries chemical spill.

Good: SB 51 — to restore and reform the film tax credit. If you can’t find this one in the round-up, it’s because SB 51 got its own editorial to explain how film tax credits have brought tons of revenue to other states, especially Georgia. The Legislature missed a great opportunity on this one while it was fighting useless culture wars.

Bad: HB 4004 — to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. This bill was identical to one from Mississippi that is currently before the Supreme Court. Legislators decided (for better or worse) to let this one go and focus instead on the Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act, which prohibits aborting a fetus because of presumed disability, except “in a medical emergency or a nonmedically viable fetus.”

Stupid: SB 541 — cut back the number of assessments homeschooling parents must submit. As we previously wrote, under current law, the parents or legal guardians of homeschooled students must submit assessment scores to the superintendent at the ends of grades three, five, eight and 11. SB 541 would have only required assessment results at the end of the first year of homeschooling, so long as the results indicate satisfactory progress. Homeschooling is already so unregulated, and while many parents do a good job, there are quite a few who don’t. Submitting test results every few years ensures that the kids are actually learning instead of being put to work in family businesses or as defacto caregivers for younger siblings.

Good: SB 477 — to establish the PROMISE Plus scholarship, which will supplement the PROMISE scholarship to equal the full cost of tuition for students who meet “more rigorous” standards. This one was introduced early in the session, moved to committee and never saw the light of day again. During the next session, we’d like to see the Legislature spend more time on bills like this one that work to help young people stay in West Virginia rather than on bills that are sure to drive young people away.